Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane gives instructions to his team players during the Spanish soccer game La Liga between Valencia and Real Madrid around the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, December 15, 2019. (AP Photo / Alberto Saiz)
MADRID – Barcelona and Real Madrid come together in the Catalan capital for the first Clásico of the season.
The Spanish authorities asked the teams to take their bus trips to Camp Nou at the same time on Wednesday, as thousands of Catalan separatists are planning a protest near the stadium.
The teams will also spend the night in the same hotel near Camp Nou.
More than 25,000 separatists are expected to protest around the stadium, and they may also be able to take action inside the stadium, where nearly 100,000 fans are expected for one of the season's most watched games.
"It will be different than usual, but they have instructed us to leave the hotel together, and we will," said Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Tuesday. "It is important that we play the game."
The police have prepared a 3,000-strong task force involving police and private security personnel to ensure that the team buses arrive on time and that nothing interrupts the game.
The game was postponed from its original date on October 26, when it was feared that separatists would disrupt the game in the middle of a week of violent protests.
"We have to focus our energies on the things that will happen in the field," said Zidane. “Everything else – what happens outside – we could talk about it for a whole week. We will focus on the field. We're going to play a soccer game. "
Barcelona and Real Madrid are at the top of the league standings, with the Catalan club having the lead in goal difference.
"We have played well and have had good results lately," said Zidane. "We come to the game and feel comfortable."
Madrid have been unbeaten in all competitions for eleven games, with eight wins and three draws.
Barcelona are unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions.
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